How to choose the best SEO agency or company explained by Digital NRG
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the work and processes that are carried out on your website, or around the internet, to get your website ranking in the results of the search engines. SEO is important, very important; however, it should be one form of digital marketing to get potential customers to your website. Although some large organisations prefer to have “in-house teams” work on their SEO, many outsource to specialist SEO agencies to get the best and most expert services, usually at less than the cost of one in-house person’s salary.
Outsource SEO to an Agency or build an In-House team?
The first question to be answered is “are you better of having a team in-house to manage the SEO or outsource to an agency?”
In-house SEO team
Hiring an SEO Expert can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive. True SEO specialists are few in number. The good ones are usually working for an SEO agency (or running their own). However, once you have found the right candidate, they can create and plan policies and working practices that can be followed by an SEO team – sharing their expertise. Like Premiership footballers, the demand for the best “SEO Players” and the rewards for getting one that brings success – drives up salaries and costs.
Working on one website or within one industry can blinker them to “what SEO is”. SEO practices change on a monthly basis. Not the core good practices, but the intricate and detailed work that gets that extra 1% success, that 1% that gets you ahead of the competition. The 1% that delivers on your goals.
On the plus side, if your businesses sales are highly dependent on digital marketing and website sales, an in-house SEO team could be beneficial. Being close at hand they can attend all marketing meetings, product development discussions and be part of the plans from the outset
Finding an SEO Agency is as easy as searching Google – there are hundreds of them within a few miles of your business. Finding a good SEO agency can be a little more difficult. Even though the best SEO companies know the value of their work, and the results it can bring a business, the sheer number of competitors keep the costs and rates at reasonable levels, ensuring a great ‘return on investment’ for your company. Using the Premiership Footballer analogy, the best SEO agencies in the UK can play in the first team, know the success and results their work can bring but are also wary of the other players who could come off the bench and take their position.
A good SEO Agency will have a speciality industry that they work with, usually, from the number of referrals they will receive, but will also work with many different companies and industries. This gives them a “whole of market view” on the best SEO practices to achieve results. The intricately detailed SEO work, we mentioned above, is the key to their success and so they will spend hours researching, testing and implementing strategies to get their customers that 1% ahead of the competition.
Although not on hand for those last-minute marketing meetings, the best SEO agencies should make themselves available for all relevant meetings, and or be available to plan and discuss action plans resulting from such meetings.
How not to choose an SEO Agency
There are some very easy mistakes that can be made in searching for the right agency for your needs or business. Here are some mistakes to avoid:
Top of Google SEO Agency
The obvious place to start is by searching Google for an SEO Agency in your location. Surely, if they are top of Google for search terms such as “SEO Company” they must be the best at getting results? Possibly, yes. However, there are some minor considerations to choosing a company through this method.
There is an old saying “the Cobbler’s children have no shoes” and this will definitely apply to the best SEO companies and agencies. Concentrating on customers’ digital marketing leaves little time for working on their own website. The very best agencies will have customers knocking their door down. The SEO companies at the top of Google usually are the smaller agencies, or even 1-man bands, that have few customers, and time on their hands to work on their own website. To check this, look at the agencies website. Are they writing blog posts every other day? Are they posting to social media daily? Does it look like they are 100% busy working for clients?
Another consideration when using Google to find an SEO agency is are they actually the top of the search results? Many agencies will use Google Adwords or “pay per click” to get themselves positioned in the adverts that Google place at the top of the search results. Hoping to fool the less experienced or digitally savvy companies into thinking they are getting the top position, when in fact they are buying that position.
Choosing from a “top SEO list”
When searching Google for “top SEO agencies” or something similar, you will often see results that are compiled lists of SEO agencies. These are usually websites that rank for relevant searches in local markets and then sell positioning in “the top 10 SEO Companies” for astronomical fees. Again, buying positioning like this is not a reflection on the work or results, an SEO company can produce.
The recommended process for choosing an SEO Company or Agency
So, you have decided to explore outsourcing your SEO to an agency. These are the steps we would recommend to getting the perfect match for your business.
Finding an SEO Agency Step 1:
Consider and document:
- The goals you want to achieve from the SEO
- How you will measure success or failure of the SEO agency
Positive goals could include:
- Traffic from specific groups
- Increase in revenue from sales
- Increase in leads from potential customers via telephone calls or email
- Increase in sign-up for newsletters or free downloads
- Your company name, products or branded terms in the top 5 of page 1
Negative goals to avoid:
- Website traffic (just more numbers – not justified and specific traffic)
- General rankings or rankings alone
- Getting ahead of a strategic competitor
- Vanity rankings and metrics – such as Page Rank (been an obsolete measure for 3 years), Domain Authority or Trust Flow. Good SEO practices will supersede these measures.
Finding an SEO Agency Step 2:
Build a list of 3 SEO companies or agencies. Have in-depth conversations and check references.
As stated above, if an SEO company are good at what they do – people will be talking about them and be delighted to tell you what they have achieved for them. So, trust ‘word of mouth’ and recommendations over any other method.
Great sources to find an SEO Agency
- Friends and personal references
- Similar, yet not the competitive, companies to yours
- Industry experts or insider that you trust and respect.
Red flags to avoid
Avoid any SEO agency that talks about a “secret sauce” to get rankings. There isn’t a “secret sauce” or “silver bullet” to achieve results. There are only solid working practices. Although quick wins and early successes are achievable, the best results come from implementing consistent working practices.
Although the best results take a time to achieve, avoid SEO agencies that try and tie you into a long contract. This is an early indication that they either have little faith in the results they will achieve or their working practices take longer than the norm. The best SEO agencies will have a contract length that holds the business partnership together for a period that will start to see results, allowing you to make a commercial decision after that based on return on investment. This would normally be a 6-month contract.
Great questions to ask a potential agency you could work with
When interviewing or just having an informal discussion with your potential SEO service provider there are some key questions to ask.
- What processes will you use to accomplish the goals of the business? Why those processes?
- How will you report work carried out and results? How often?
- What involvement will you need from us?
- What do you do when things just aren’t working?
- How does Google rank results? How do you work with this?
If you are wavering between conducting in-house SEO or outsourcing, supplemental questions could be – “How many clients will my SEO Consultant be managing? How much access will I have to them?”
If you do not know the answers to these questions, it doesn’t matter. It is the confidence the agency has in their answer that counts. Can they explain the processes without trying to bamboozle you with jargon? Can they show examples of doing what they say they do? It is as important to understand how they communicate the answer, rather than the answers themselves.
Finding an SEO Agency Step 3:
Choose the agency to conduct the SEO based on:
- Referrals and references
- Communication style and match to your own
A good SEO agency, that you can trust, that can prove it can deliver results and your two companies are in sync in communication style and thinking is far more important than the price of the service. A great SEO company will be in demand, have new customers knocking on their door and will know the value of their services to your business. The cost of the SEO service will be minuscule in comparison to the financial benefits and return on investment.
Digital NRG consider ourselves the best digital marketing and SEO agency in the UK. We offer SEO services that deliver results and are happy to show examples. We have a number of influential “industry leaders” that are willing to offer references and over 90% of our customers come to us through referral. We offer the expertise of an SEO agency and the flexibility to be as available as any in-house SEO team. Our customers are only contracted for 6-months and make a commercial decision on the service after that. Over 90% of our customers have been with us in excess of a year, many of our customers have been with us for over 3 years.
All of our SEO services are conducted in the UK and are not outsourced abroad. We have a dedicated SEO team in Bristol and have SEO Account Managers in Bristol, Swindon, Reading / Slough, London, Kent, Bournemouth, Cardiff, Swansea, Gloucester / Cheltenham, Birmingham, Machester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sunderland. A national SEO service with local representation throughout the South West UK, M4 corridor, Home Counties, Greater London area, the south coast, the Midlands, North West UK and North East UK.
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